Robert Hughes, Germaine Greer, Barry Humphries and Clive James: if they were young guns today, they would individually be spectacular successes and a source of national pride. As a quartet, just like the Kardashians, the sum of the parts, the accumulative effect would be bigger than a bag of Biebers. But that these four cut a swath through international intelligentsia, at a time before the "avocado pear" had been introduced to menus of posh local restaurants, is something to wrap the mind around. In exploring their achievements, we must first look at the Australia of their childhood, the cultural propellants, good and bad, that made them move and shake. The context of success is the greatest strength in Brilliant Creatures: Germaine, Clive, Barry and Bob (ABC, Tuesday, 8.30pm). Hosted by the ridiculously charming and talented Howard Jacobson, remarkable observations of the times and the source of rebellion come from Martin Amis, Melvyn Bragg, Simon Schama, Michael Parkinson, Eric Idle, Bruce Beresford and Rachel Griffiths. This documentary series is a branch office meeting of MENSA. Obviously the material of Brilliant Creatures is the stuff of which ABC viewers' dreams are made. We'll graze our knees on the clinker bricks of nostalgia in every frame. We'll taste the cheap red wine, swilled by The Push, hear the roars of laughter from the Cambridge Footlights Review stage, and wistfully wave long dead gladdies for Edna and her bridesmaid Madge. But this is not just a nostalgia trip. Jacobson's best work comes with his interviews of the surviving three: all more relaxed and likeable than they've appeared in decades. Perhaps they are less irascible in his company, or just very comfortable in reveries with a peer. Their observations about Australia, and about the Australian sense of humour and visceral combat with the English language, make sense. Were they fearless egalitarian mavericks, or gauche clueless innocents? No matter. Their courage and apparent descent from Mars (Australia) suited the climate and changing times. Local television is asking us to regroup and reflect on our recent past. From The Devils' Playground to Howzat and Underbelly, TV hindsight is 20/20. The Sixties (SBS, Sunday 8.30pm and Tuesday) retells the biggest stories of that decade by digging up rare TV footage of the times. Talented filmmaker Mark Herzog and producer Gary Goetzman have attempted to report the news as if CNN existed in the '60s. As the emergence of television changed forever the way we gather information, this conceit is ideal for a fresh look at the moon landing, the Beatles, or Vietnam. While this series lacks the intelligent overview we enjoy with Brilliant Creatures, the times are equally well evoked. There's no narrator and very few subtitles. It's a courageous creative call, but the black and white almost un-edited people reveal so much about themselves, with less intervention. In the JFK assassination episode, it is stunning how many witnesses, journalists, and first responders, chain smoke as they speak freely to camera. There's also a remarkable scene where Lee Harvey Oswald is almost eaten alive by rabid journalists. He rather politely tries to answer the furious barrage of questions. And then he is shot dead. No such scene would be possible today. And yet, there a moments in this coverage that remind us of camera phone footage from September 11. Both these series reflect on a time before Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame had become every moron's ambition. Cameras and telephones were unrelated appliances. People spoke in sentences, not sound bites. Not better or worse, just different. This is a good time to look back as we try to make sense going forward. ALSO Don't miss Utopia (ABC, Wednesday 8.30pm) Rob Sitch and Kitty Flanagan are so credible, they could give evidence at ICAC.